Tooele dog burned in alleged retaliation remains in critical condition

A dog was taken from a Tooele residence and lighted on fire. Photo: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 2, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A dog police found burned in Magna after it was reported stolen by a Tooele woman remains in critical condition Tuesday afternoon, a statement from the Salt Lake County Animal Services.

The dog is being care for at an emergency veterinary hospital.

“The dog owner has since been reunited and reclaimed their pet,” the statement says. “The dog sustained  second- and third- degree burns to its head, pelvis, hind end, belly, and mouth.

“The dog’s outcome remains uncertain at this time. She is currently on fluids and pain medication. Animal cruelty charges against the suspect are pending.”

Michael Busico, 40, who used to date the mother of the dog owner, has been arrested in the case, and so far faces charges of:

  • Torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony
  • Arson, damages between $1,500 and $5,000 or prior conviction, a third-degree felony
  • Theft, a class B misdemeanor
  • Criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor

Tooele Police officers were dispatched Monday on a theft call after a report that a 21-year-old woman’s dog had disappeared after a visit from her mother’s ex-boyfriend.

“The victim stated Mr. Busico was at the house while she was leaving,” the probable cause statement says. “The victim stated Mr. Busico had come over to give treats to the dogs (which the victim believed to be highly suspicious as Mr. Busico did not normally give the dog treats). The victim stated she left the residence while Mr. Busico was still there.

“When the victim returned, she noticed her dog was gone. The dog was on the victim’s property within an enclosed fence. The victim stated her dog had been stolen and there was probable cause to believe that Mr. Busico had stolen the dog in retaliation to their failing relationship.”

Later, an officer was dispatched to 9500 W. Frontage Road, Magna, north of Interstate 80, on a report that a dog had been set on fire.

Michael Paul Busico. Photo: Tooele County

“A witness on scene described a male fitting the arrestee’s description fleeing the scene in a green Toyota Tacoma. After a while, the dog was located with burns on it’s body,” the officer wrote, speculating that vet bills would be in the thousands of dollars.

“Through investigation, it was found that the arrestee was in a dispute with the mother of the victim over $1,200 dollars and a past relationship that had ended. The suspect’s vehicle was located at the arrestee’s father’s residence.”

A warrant was approved and served on the suspect’s home.

“The arrestee was observed by assisting officers exiting the residence and loading items in the suspect’s vehicle. The assisting officers arrived and utilized their emergency lights and Michael fled, but was apprehended less than 100 yards away.”

Busico was booked into jail Tuesday, records show, and will be held without bail.

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